This past week for me could easily be described as “Sugar Hell”. I had a powerfully negative physical and emotional experience that came about directly because of ingesting sugar. I’ve come out on the other side wiser and more convinced than ever that avoiding sugar is a good thing.
About 3 months ago I quit eating all forms of processed sugar. After only a few days I started noticing positive changes like less pain, more energy, and happier moods. It was also about the same time that I started taking raw cannabis and was feeling way better than I had felt in a really long time. So, was it the no sugar or the raw cannabis that was making me feel so good? It was definitely both. I took a few weeks away from raw cannabis and still felt relatively descent until sugar showed up again.
Nutrition school and books have told me that sugar will suppress the immune system, interfere with the absorption of calcium and magnesium, contribute to inflammation in the body, cause depression, cause headaches (including migraines), increase fluid retention, age skin by changing the structure of collagen, contribute to diseases like osteoperosis, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. It’s kind of major and yet I still find myself eating it even though I suffer from more than one of those listed ailments!
Books have also told me that sugar is addictive. Like every person who has ever raided a cookie jar doesn’t know that, right? Sugar is addictive firstly because eating only a small amount will create a large desire for more. You will make (sometimes ridiculous) efforts to get it regardless of whether you are hungry or not. Secondly, sugar is considered addictive because suddenly quitting sugar altogether causes withdrawal such as headaches, fatigue, mood swings, and cravings.
Now, I have experienced sugar cravings, withdrawals, and binges before but this past week was different partly because it had been so long since I had experienced the side effects and they were no longer a normal part of my day. It happened on Tuesday…
I knew I was going to be driving by one particular gluten-free bakery last week that makes yummy vegan peanut butter cookies. Not sure why I even drove into the parking lot. I went in, they didn’t have the cookies but I still managed to walk out with two vegan cupcakes. Before I was even out of the parking lot I had scarfed down one of them. Within 5 minutes I started into the second one, got part way through the second one before I had to stop from a stomach ache and my tastebuds asking for a break from sweetness overload. It was a little crazy and intense. I went home and needed to take a nap. Then I ate what was left of the other cupcake. The next morning, no joke, I woke up later than usual with stiff inflammed joints, no energy, depressed, angry, and craving sugar. I am normally a morning person.
Over the next couple of days I got sucked into a couple more weird sugar binges. I also found myself with zero energy, in pain, needing naps in the afternoon, depressed, and annoyed by everything. I felt stuck in an uncomfortably familiar dark grey hole and knew that the only way I was going to get back to my energetic, optimistic, happy self was to get away from the sugar again.
I’m happy to report that it is day 6 without sugar and the cravings are subsiding. Day one, my body felt so congested that I couldn’t reach within 3 inches of my toes with straight legs. By day five, I could seriously reach beyond my toes. I’m also feeling more energy, brighter moods, and an extremely bloated stomach has returned to its non-sugar self. Before week “Sugar Hell” I was dancing everyday but since the cupcake incident up until yesterday music no longer made me feel like dancing. That is not how I intend to go through life!!
Here are a few things I did to get through “Sugar Hell”:
1) I medicated with cannabis to treat the aches and pains, the digestive issues, the depressed moods, and the mental fog. (For the purposes of saying in the title that cannabis is safer than sugar I would like to add that there are no withdrawal symptoms when cannabis use is suddenly stopped. Not to mention that it also helps to treat the very symptoms caused by sugar. You connecting the dots too? Taking sugar regularly causes diseases. Taking cannabis regularly treats diseases.)
2) I used food to manage my desires for sugar by keeping regular eating times. I made sure to get plenty of protein and healthy fats with each meal which helps immensely to combat sugar cravings throughout the day. I also loaded up on veggies- especially all of the green colored ones.
3) I drank plenty of water to stay hydrated and help my body cleanse itself.
4) I exercised and sweat every single day. Nothing will lift your mood, loosen up your body, cleanse your lymphatic system, or make you feel better about yourself quite like a good workout. Even on the tough of days.
5) I made more time to do sweet things in my days. Spending time outside appreciating nature, sending positive notes to people I care about, quiet time meditating, playtime with friends, and practicing gratitude for the goodness in my life. Funny how you won’t seek out food for those happy feelings when you can get them from other sources.
6) I meditated and practiced breathing a lot. I found myself incredibly anxious this week so being able to tune in to my body and relax was really helpful and nice.
If I didn’t have cannabis, recovering from the toxic effects of sugar would have been extra unpleasant. That kind of sounds ridiculous when my cupcake eating self reads it out loud, but it’s totally true.